Category Archives: Tsunami

After the Indonesian tsunami: Cashing in on the dead

The devastating tsunami has shattered the lives of thousands of people. More than 400 families have lost members — and in the hospitals, of all places, people have been cashing in on the survivors' suffering.

Deutsche Welle, 2 January 2019

A hearse in front of a hospital in Indonesia (DW/J. Küng)

When the relatives of the tsunami victims come to collect the mortal remains of their loved ones from Serang District Hospital in the province of Banten, around 150 kilometers from Java's ravaged coastal region, they are in a state of shock. Jackson Sinaga from Jakarta is one of them. He lost his nine-month-old son to the floodwaters, triggered by the collapse of the Anak Krakatoa volcano just before Christmas. "Satria was fast asleep in a rented villa on Carita Beach when the tsunami crashed through the building," he says. "It happened so fast — I didn't have time to save my little boy."

Traumatized and plagued by feelings of guilt, Jackson has come to collect the boy's lifeless body from the hospital in Serang. However, instead of being met with sympathy, the 29-year-old father is presented with a hefty bill. He's told he has to pay 800,000 rupiah (€50, $55) which he owes for the transport of the body. "In cash," the forensics department employee adds. That's a lot of money in a country where the average monthly wage is less than €240. Jackson, however, is not capable of thinking rationally, and hands over the money.

Family members of the victims are being ripped off

Three more victims' families meet outside the building. They've also been told they owe money — around four million rupiah. This despite the fact that Indonesia's Ministry of Health is paying all costs resulting from the tsunami disaster, in full, with money from the government's coffers. A debate ensues among the relatives of the dead. One of the people who've been swindled collects the receipts and promises to take them to the local authorities.

Receipts issued on forged letterhead

DW confronts the hospital with the accusations, and is invited to speak to its deputy director, Rahmat Fitriadi. When asked if the hospital knew about the illegal takings, Fitriadi bursts into tears. "Neither the management nor our doctors have charged for any services. We have nothing to do with these schemes," says Fitriadi, sobbing. The official letterhead on the receipts is forged, he continues, dabbing the tears from his eyes. "This is a tragedy for our hospital. I hope this scandal doesn't damage our reputation. We support the authorities' investigation and are providing them with all available information."

Fitradi says his hospital has nothing to do with the scam

Investigators from the provincial police in Banten interrogate doctors, forensic scientists and hospital personnel — and open a can of worms. It seem that at least 15 million rupiah have vanished into the pockets of hospital employees. So far, six of the families cheated have been identified. A forensic department employee and two people working with the emergency services have been arrested on suspicion of corruption. The authorities' investigation is ongoing.

Long jail sentences

It's nothing new in Indonesia for workers in public institutions to demand backhanders or issue illegal invoices. Traffic departments will only issue driving licenses within a reasonable time if you make an "extra payment." Teachers at public schools can be bribed to give out the answers to exam questions. President Joko Widodo has repeatedly promised to clamp down on rampant corruption. What is new is people cashing in on the misery of tsunami victims. If those accused are convicted, they could be facing life sentences; they'll certainly go to prison for at least four years.

Right now, though, for Jackson Sinaga, the arrests are of little interest. "I just hope that no more surviving relatives are swindled and met with such lack of empathy," he says. The Sinaga family has certainly lost all confidence in Serang District Hospital. Jackson's brother and sister, who were also badly injured in the tsunami, are no longer being treated at Serang, but at a hospital in Jakarta.

World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 bn in loans

Yahoo – AFP, October 14, 2018

The recent quake-tsunami unleashed devastation on the Indonesian island of
Sulawesi, killing thousands (AFP Photo/MOHD RASFAN)

The World Bank on Sunday announced funding of up to $1 billion for Indonesia after it was rocked by a string of recent disasters, including a deadly earthquake-tsunami that killed thousands.

CEO Kristalina Georgieva unveiled the funds at Indonesian holiday island Bali, where the Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been holding their annual meetings.

A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on September 28, killing more than 2,000 people and leaving thousands more missing, presumed dead.

Rescue teams scoured the wreckage for a fortnight before calling off the search for the dead, acknowledging as many as 5,000 missing people might never be found.

Georgieva said the funds being made available by the Bank in the form of loans could be used for reconstruction but were also intended to help Indonesia build "resilience", so it would be better prepared in the face of future disasters.

"Disasters will continue to hit and with climate change there will be more," said Georgieva, who visited Palu earlier this week.

"The best memorial we can build for the victims of disaster is to build better, so next time when a disaster hits fewer people are affected, fewer lives are lost, and there is less damage."

Nearly 90,000 people were displaced by the quake in Palu, forcing them into evacuation centres across the rubble-strewn city.

Officials said it could be two years before all the homeless are found permanent accommodation.

Aid groups say a dearth of clean drinking water and medical supplies remains a very real concern for 200,000 people in urgent need.

Donations have begun pouring into the coastal city of 350,000 after a slow start which saw Indonesia criticised for stalling the flow of relief supplies.

The shallow 7.5-magnitude tremor was more powerful than a series of quakes this summer that killed more than 550 people on the Indonesian island of Lombok and neighbouring Sumbawa.

Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes, including a devastating 9.1-magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004, killing 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati welcomed the pledge.

"This is not one earmark for a certain project, this is something that can be used by the government to support (people) during this uncertain time," she said.

The funding was particularly important in the current economic climate, she said, "with much higher interest rates, tightening of liquidity, (it is) a much harder environment for us to get financing from outside".

Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth.

It lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

North Sumatra & Aceh Tour

The 15 day “Sumatran Highlights tour allows you to see all the major attractions of northern Sumatra, while also bringing you very close to the people, history, and culture of the region.

You will

  • meet and stay with local people
  • experience the unique Batak Toba culture
  • spot orangutans in the Gayo Highlands
  • see the world’s largest volcanic lake, Toba
  • encounter endangered wildlife in Gunung Leuser NP
  • hear first-hand accounts of the 2004 tsunami
  • go snorkelling on unspoilt Pulau Weh island
  • and much more

Fast Facts

North Sumatra Tour Map

Tour: Sumatran Highlights
Operator: Intrepid Travel

Length: 15 days
Group Size: 1-12 people
Cost: $1700+, €1000+, £1000+

Provinces: North Sumatra, Aceh
Cities: Medan, Banda Aceh
Major Sights: Lake Toba, Gunung Leuser National Park, Sipisopiso waterfall, Mt. Sibayak, Gayo Highlands, Pulau Weh

Accommodation: 9 nights hotel, 3 nights guesthouse, 1 night homestay, 1 night camping
Transport: Plane, bus, ferry, minivan
Meals: 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Book this tour at Intrepid Travel

Itinerary

Medan Grand MosqueDay 1: Medan. Start off your tour in the North Sumatran capital of Medan; if you’ve arrived early see some sights like Maimoon Palace or the Grand Mosque.

Lake TobaDays 2-3: Lake Toba. Off to world renowned volcanic Lake Toba. Your tour of the Lake Toba area will give you an insight into the distinctive culture of the Batak Toba people.

Dokan HouseDays 4-5: Berastagi. See Sipiso-piso Waterfall and Simalungun Palace before resting at a Dokan village homestay. Then go hiking up to the top of Sibayak Volcano to experience the amazing summit views. Nearby hot springs will afford some relaxation at the end of the day.

Sumatra tiger in Gunung LeuserDays 6-7: Ketambe. Learn about the many endangered species that call Gunung Leuser National Park home, including tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses. Take a guided walk in search of orangutans, and camp by the river.

Gayo HighlandsDays 8-9: Gayo Highlands. Take in the majestic Gayo Highlands, with undulating hills covered with coffee plantations. Next day visit the enigmatic Loyang Koro Cave.

Banda AcehDays 10-11: Banda Aceh. Visit the Tsunami Musuem and learn of the experiences of local people during the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. Take a tour with Network for Tsunami Aceh to understand more of the calamity.

Pulau WehDays 12-13: Pulau Weh. Visit the tropical island playground of Pulau Weh, and go snorkelling in pristine waters.

Graha Bunda MariaDays 14-15: Medan. Use your initiative to explore the city of Medan, perhaps taking in the Tjong A Fie Mansion, the colonial district, or Graha Bunda Maria.

Book this tour at Intrepid Travel

Read some interesting comments on this tour and Sumatran travel in general: Sumatra For The Intrepid.

Need to book a hotel or arrange a domestic flight in Indonesia? Browse through listings of Medan hotels and arrange domestic flights.

Japan Earthquake

Some of the local reactions to the Japan earthquake and tsunami tragedy; worries about economic impact on Indonesia.

Obviously the following notes are trivial compared to the tragedy but on an Indonesia focused site....

Via JP

Indonesia’s exports and imports with Japan may be impeded by the recent massive earthquake and tsunami that resulted in damaged infrastructure in mainly coastal parts of the archipelago.

Japan is the country’s number one export destination for non-oil and gas products, accounting for nearly 13% of overall exports, or $16.5 billion in 2010.

In a similar vein, Edy Putra Irawady, deputy for industry and trade to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, said Indonesian companies should look elsewhere:

So exporters, importers and business world alike should be patient or switch to new markets other than Japan

He also worried that the massive Japanese investment in Indonesia would decline.

And the minister of Transmigration and Manpower worries that the disaster will limit work opportunities for Indonesian guest workers; there are currently 17,000 Indonesians there, many of them nurses, and Muhaimin Iskandar is fearful that the companies that employ them will go broke or have severe liquidity problems.

On a more positive note the Indonesian Red Cross/Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) is going to send 7 people to help.


Videos:

Japan Earthquake is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Mentawai Earthquake & Tsunami

Australian media story about surfers in Mentawai

Australian media story about surfers in Mentawai

The chairman of the Travel Association (ASITA) of West Sumatra, Asnawi Bahar, worried that early reports from the earthquake/tsunami disaster area on Mentawai Island were too bold in speculating over the fate of foreign tourists, especially surfers, in the area.

He said:

"It sets a bad precedent and West Sumatra will be seen as an unsafe area for visiting and surfing. I really hope that the media does not give the wrong impression about West Sumatra."

A 7.2 strong earthquake, and consequent tsunami, struck the Mentawai Islands district, specifically Pagai island, on October 26th, killing at least 300 people, with another 100 or so missing.

Premature reports of 'missing' tourists
Premature reports of 'missing' tourists

Bahar worried that a number of already booked foreign tour parties would cancel their plans to visit the area, because the media was so willy-nilly in reporting on the possible fate of foreigners in the district.

Every year 10,000 surfers visited West Sumatra, prior to this week's disaster, and they spent on average $1000 each during their stay. If they stayed at the Makaroni and Kandui resorts, they spent even more money, he said.

If they are influenced by the bad news it will have a long term negative effect.

He hoped that news agencies would be more responsible in their reports, and check the facts first with the relevant agencies, and that "regulations" regarding these matters be tightened. [1]

Mentawai Earthquake & Tsunami is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Mentawai Earthquake & Tsunami: Damage Control

The chairman of the Travel Association (ASITA) of West Sumatra, Asnawi Bahar, worried that early reports from the earthquake/tsunami disaster area on Mentawai Island were too bold in speculating over the fate of foreign tourists, especially surfers, in the area.

mentawai

A 7.2 strong earthquake, and consequent tsunami, struck the Mentawai Islands district, specifically Pagai island, on October 26th, killing at least 300 people, with another 100 or so missing.

It sets a bad precedent and West Sumatra will be seen as an unsafe area for visiting and surfing. I really hope that the media does not give the wrong impression about West Sumatra.

Bahar worried that a number of already booked foreign tour parties would cancel their plans to visit the area, because the media was so willy-nilly in reporting on the possible fate of foreigners in the district.

Australian media story about surfers in Mentawai

Australian media story about surfers in Mentawai

Every year 10,000 surfers visited West Sumatra, prior to this week's disaster, and they spent on average $1000 each during their stay. If they stayed at the Makaroni and Kandui resorts, they spent even more money, he said.

If they are influenced by the bad news it will a long term negative effect.

He hoped that news agencies would be more responsible in their reports, and check the facts first with the relevant agencies, and that "regulations" regarding these matters be tightened. [1]

Mentawai Earthquake & Tsunami: Damage Control is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book domestic flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesia hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.